The Big Idea: Lavie Tidhar

Another year, another anthology: doesn’t editor and author Lavie Tidhar have other things to do with his time? No! (Well, maybe, but not to the exclusion of this.) Turns out, he’s on a mission, and that mission has resulted in The Best of World SF: Volume 2. Here’s Tidhar to explain.


The Best of… what?

World SF, you say? Didn’t you write about this for the Big Idea last year?

You mean, they actually let you do a second volume?

And if so… why?

These are all legitimate questions. Being an annoying individual with a certain stubborn streak (or godly pig-headedness, if anyone still worships Moccus, the Celtic boar-headed god), I annoyingly decided, long-ago, to make a place for myself in English-language science fiction despite the obstacles. Those being, not even having English as a first language (it turns out – shock – English just isn’t that hard), growing up far away from America or Britain, and basically having no place in an industry that was approximately 130.5% dominated by American writers.

And, having more or less done so, I picked up the mantle of the old, discarded, “World SF” group that was set up primarily to let said American writers have drinks with their Soviet counterparts back in the days when we still had to worry about a nuclear war (oh, wait…), and proceeded to try and make something happen.

No one, of course, was remotely interested. But I somehow still managed to put out five small-press anthologies (The Apex Book of World SF), and run the World SF Blog for four years, which, I think, brought together a small community of international writers and enthusiasts.

Regardless. This was a long time ago, and in all that time I kept knocking on publishers’ doors (metaphorically speaking, as they don’t like you actually showing up in person), and being told no. Something, I am glad to say, publishing is still very good at!

One publisher, however, acted very oddly and, one could say, irrationally, and after about three years of me being annoying about it, gave me the keys to the kingdom. As it were. Or rather, the chance to put together The Best of World SF: Volume 1, an anthology so magnificent and so ground-breaking that the science fiction world embraced it with never-seen-before enthusiasm and gave it its highest honours – I mean, mostly ignored it. As was not entirely unexpected, going by previous experience.

So that might have been the end of it, only we did very distinctly put Volume 1 on the cover, perhaps foolishly. And if you do that then, American fandom’s endearing indifference aside, you kind of have to do a Volume 2.

Which, I am glad to say, we did!

I’m incredibly pleased with this book, I have to admit. 175,000 words of some of the best recent science fiction from around the world? Yes, please! This time including no less than nine original stories to go alongside my choice reprints. It’s not quite a traditional Best Of anthology, but it’s pretty unique. And, I think, good! Is it a Big Idea? I think so! But mostly I think this is a showcase for some of the exceptional new writers working in speculative fiction today, some writing in English, some translated, from China to Brazil and from Iraq to Uganda.

Should this join Volume 1 on the shelf of every science fiction reader in the world? Well, I’d like that! They’re handsome books, especially if you shell out for the hardcover edition. But the e-books are cheap and the first volume’s out now in a handy paperback. Why not take a chance on some writers new to you? They’re all pretty great.

And, if you don’t, well – you can’t blame me for trying!

The Best of World SF: Volume 2: Amazon US|Amazon UK|Barnes & Noble|Waterstones

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